A fishing boat called the Grayling capsized in choppy sea waters off the coast of Alaska on Monday, causing crew members to be thrown overboard.
Crew members from the Calista Marie, a nearby boat, saw the ordeal and jumped into action. They called the U.S. Coast Guard for additional assistance but Coast Guard flight crews were 55 miles away on a training mission when they received the call, KTUU-TV reported.
“The crew of the Calista Marie arrived on scene and rescued one crewman from the Grayling, as the Grayling’s skiff driver rescued the master,” Coast Guard officials wrote, KTVA-TV reported. “The aircrew diverted from a training flight when they observed the captain of the capsized fishing vessel Grayling jump into the water to assist the fourth crewman.”
The Grayling's captain successfully rescued the crewman before performing CPR on him. Once the Coast Guard flight crew arrived on scene, they flew the crew member to a nearby airport where paramedics were standing by.
The Associated Press reported that, according to Coast Guard officials, the Grayling's captain jumped into 47-degree water. There were 17-mph winds and 5-foot seas, which made the rescue mission even more dangerous.
“Five-foot swell, you had a seiner skiff bouncing around, you had a capsized boat with nets and rigging in the water floating around and as you can see in the video, the individual that jumped in for the rescue was between the seiner skiff and the capsized hull at one point pretty close,” Lt. Kevin Riley, an Air Station Kodiak Jayhawk pilot, said, according to KTUU.
Because of the conditions, the rescue was deemed extremely dangerous.
“There’s a very high chance of experiencing hypothermia and experiencing (cold water immersion symptoms) if you’re not wearing a life jacket and the proper equipment, including an immersion suit in Alaska’s extreme maritime environment,” Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 1st Class Bill Colclough said in a statement, KTVA reported. “He was wearing those things — he increased his chances of survival, so he could help his fellow crewman.”
Four of the five crewmen left the scene unhurt. The fifth was treated at the airport for hypothermia and possible ingestion of diesel fuel.